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Olivia’s Story: Not your fault

2 years ago, when I was 12 years old, I was walking to meet my friend. It was summer, and so I put on a pair of tight jean short-shorts. I felt sexy and beautiful and like I could conquer the world. I felt so good.

I was walking past a florist’s shop when an old man outside gave me a catcall. I spun around, staring at him. I couldn’t believe what he had just done. It was the first acknowledgement of being “sexy” or “hot” before. And it was from an old man who was wearing a wedding ring.

I didn’t know what else to do but continue walking. I felt myself to start to tear up and feel brought down. I couldn’t help but feel violated. Ashamed. I knew my shorts were short, but were they really that short? I kept thinking that it was my fault. That I was asking for it, that I was the reason I was being catcalled. And that if I wanted to dress like how I was dressing, I couldn’t dress like that.

When I got to the place I was meeting my friend, I changed in the bathroom into something more conservative. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to feel that way again.

Now, I realize that my shorts or my legs or my ass shouldn’t mean that someone should look at me, violate me, and make me feel ashamed.

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Emma S’s Story: Harassed on the subway

A  man came up to me while I was standing on the subway, put his hand on my hip and said to me “your European aren’t you ? I can tell because in Europe the women are taught to be so sensual in nature.”

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Andra’s Story: “Really?”

I crossed the street with the pedestrian light, but this pickup truck was rolling into the crosswalk so I waved as I walked by. He honked at me, so I turned around and he was flipping me off, I flipped him off, and he used his hand and tongue to gesture fellatio. I yelled “Really?”, and he continued to flip me off and put his hands in his mouth in lewd ways. I don’t know what he was saying because I was listening to headphones, and then flipping him off and walking away.

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Sabrina’s Story: “Stop wasting your time”

You don’t know me. You don’t know how my day has been going. You don’t know why I am at the bar with my friends, and you certainly have no business making judgements based on my facial expressions. You could have tried to not be an ass and actually struck up conversation, but if you are just going to open with “Smile!” you will get nothing more than a glare.

I’m not going to smile for your male-privileged approval. Stop wasting your time.

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Fiona’s Story: Scary

I guess it was verbal as well as groping really but you can only choose one. I’m 16 and I consider it ‘normal’ to be whistled at or have things said to me on the street and although I sometimes get a bit nervous, it doesn’t usually bother me. this was different though.

I was on a 40 minute train ride on my own to see my big sister, sitting on the part by the toilets because it was busy. a man who I later found out was 32 came through, tried to get in the toilet and I told him there was someone in there, thinking iIwas just helping. he said thanks then looked at me weirdly and said I had a beautiful voice, I said thanks and he went in the toilet as the other person came out.

after he came out he stood chatting to me for a while, going on about my voice and the train and just chatting then said he would be back and got his stuff then sat next to me. it started getting a little awkward sometimes as he would touch my leg or just stare at me but I didn’t know what to do so I stayed and just tried to keep the conversation on safe ground whenever he brought up what I look like.

it got to the stop where I change and I was really glad until he said he got off here too and also got the same next train as me. I got especially scared when he offered to take me in a taxi with him, said no and went to lean against the wall and wait for my train. he followed. now, this is a tiny train station with hardly anyone else there so nobody could really see us where we had to wait for the train.

he started pinching my bum, all he would talk about was what I looked like, he put his hand right up my skirt and was holding my arm, hard, with his other hand while saying he wanted to give me ‘a good hard fucking’. I  moved his hand from up my skirt and told him I had a boyfriend but he kept putting it back, he also forced my hand onto his erection through his jeans.

luckily, the train came and I tried to get on through a different door and sit in a busy carriage but there was just 3 more men, so I didn’t feel I could say anything when he found me and sat next to me. he said he was just going to the toilet and I could have moved but I was scared he would be angry and find me so I stayed.

as soon as he sat back down, he said ‘cumming felt so good’ and I just did a sort of half giggle thing because I didn’t know what to say. he kept pressing his leg against mine and putting his hand up my skirt again but I kept trying to move it again.

I got off the train at my stop, trying to stay close to another group of people but he followed me again for ages. eventually, he said he was going and made me give him a weirdly long hug.

I haven’t told anyone because I know way worse things happen in the world, but it was scary.

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Miia’s Story: Harassed outside the store

I had caught cold, but I still needed to go buy the vegan biker boots I had set aside in a shop. So I went downtown, bought them and decided to wear them right now.

I walked to the city center, I was a bit thirsty and had some extra change so I went to a grocery shop to buy my favorite drink, Estonian carrot juice. As I walked out of the shop, I opened the first bottle and went to the garbage bin to put the cork in it.

Outside the shop, there was this young adult who was excitedly talking on a cellphone, and when he saw me, he started yelling; “Hey you! You, girl! You in the red tartan cap! Hey! You know very well I am talking to you!”

I was horrified, but as usual, I just walked away, and he ran after me. I ran to the escalators and yelled “Help!” but as I mentioned I had a cold and my throat was sore, so I could only croak.

I ran to the bus station, luckily the creep didn’t follow me. I called this counselor who has helped me before, and told her about the incident. She told me that maybe the guy wanted to tell me that I had dropped something, and I informed her that if I had, he wouldn’t have yelled something like “Hey you! I’m talking to you! Hey girl!”, he would have said something like “Excuse me miss, you dropped your wallet” or something like that.

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Eloise’s Story: “He knew he could get away with it”

I don’t really know if this is worth sharing, but I saw an article in a magazine about street harassment and campaigns against it, and I thought might as well, because it’s something that should be made more aware.
So Thursday 20th Oct 2011. I was waiting for the bus as I was going to town, and as usual it was late. I was alone at the bus stop, but I wasn’t too bothered seeing as it was just gone midday, however it was pretty cold, and I was looking forward to get on the warm bus.
I’d been there about 15 mins when a car started to slow down, and a guy popped his head out and shouted “how much for sex” before laughing and driving off. The fact that he drove off obviously meant he was joking, but I was surprised as to how shaken up I was. Baring in mind I’m 16 and there was no one about, so anything could have happened. I wasn’t even dressed “sexy”. I was in a big hoody, jeans, trainers with a big scarf. I just hate the fact that he thought he could just say something like that, because he knew he could get away with it.

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Danielle’s Story: “That is obviously going to make me want to talk to him more”

I was walking to my bus stop when I noticed a car driving slowly by me. I only glanced over to see what it was. This guy just fervently waving at me. I wasn’t rude and didn’t want to get into any sort of situation, so I just looked away and kept walking, but he made it a point to turn around so he could flip me off and spit at me. Because that is obviously going to make me want to talk to him more!

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Alana’s Story: Angry

I used to get a lot of verbal harassment in the neighborhood where I lived, off of a major highway. I moved to a smaller, nicer, residential neighborhood where harassment isn’t really a problem.
I was walking back from the library. It wasn’t late, maybe 7:30 or so, but it’s getting darker earlier now so the sun was already down. The speed limit is very low, so cars drive slowly, but I noticed one coming towards me was slowing way down. It had heavily tinted windows, so I couldn’t see who was driving it, but it pulled into a space next to where I was walking and I heard someone inside say “hey, ladyy.”
I was already in a bad mood, so I bellowed “Fuck off!” as loudly as I could and the kept walking. I heard the car pull away behind me.
I’m glad my harassment reaction skills haven’t atrophied, but it still really, really made me angry.

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Anne’s Story: “This is the way you call a dog, dude”

For more than a year now I have passed the same guy on my walk to work at least once if not multiple times a week. He’s a middle aged man who wears dark rimmed glasses and flamboyant brightly colored suits always walking west on Lake Street. He also makes a very obvious point to look me (and every other woman in a one block radius) up and down every time I walk by him– sometimes I will have walked 10 or 15 feet past him and I turn around and he is walking with his head turned all the way around still looking at my behind. He always tries to lean in way too close with a “Hey baby” or a “Looking fine, girl” or making that awful kissing noise– that’s his favorite. This is the way you call a dog, dude. It does NOT make me want to sleep with you. In fact, it makes me want to kick you in the groin.

Normally I am pretty good at ignoring idiots like this, but the fact that I experience this on a regular basis from the same person– that I can spot him from a block away and know what is coming– totally infuriates me. I have given him the dirtiest looks I can muster, stared him down, told him he is disgusting, but I’m pretty sure he gets off on that because his behavior never changes… if anything, he gets a little braver and lingers a little longer and he’s still the same awful creep that I can expect to run into almost every morning.

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